Re: International Enlightenment Fellowship/Andrew Cohen
Date: January 15, 2012 04:12AM
A Citizens First Amendment Speculation
Is Wilberian Integralism a Ritualized Drama?
I suggest that anyone who gets involved with Wilberian Integralism is getting involved with very much more than an intellectual model.
Its a way of life, but not in the way Wilber and his promoters say it is.
The chronic debates that erupt year after year when yet another guru scandal comes to light--dare we consider that this repetitious series of controversies and crises may be a ritual, and even a necessary part of the Wilberian social scene, its way of life?
The ancients had their mythologies, acted out each year or every 3 to 5 years via ritual.
Some of the most risky and transgressive rituals, such as the women climbing the mountain to enact Bacchic ecstatic ritual, took place every few years.
In Rome, each year, the Saturnalia mandated transgression of the usual social roles.
The mythologies had haunting stories of gods and demigods betraying each other, betraying or rescuing human beings, playing strange, sometimes inscrutable roles in the unfolding of destiny.
So perhaps the Wilberian faithful look to Wilber and his celebrity friends to act out the dramas for them, and they observe as audiences for the drama or some may join the debates and become members one of two Choruses.
But this isnt evolutionary. Its to me a very familiar re-enactment and a compulsive repetitive re enactment of stuff many of us go through as part of the misery of childhood powerlessness.
We are helpless, little people.
As children, little people, our own experiences are written off by adults as lacking legitimacy.
If things get really bad, we as children decide to hate our own weakness, identify with the Big People and disown our own experiences as Little People and despise others who are powerless too.
We are put in custody, and hopefully, benevolent care, of Big People who, because they are Big People, are Supposed to Know What is Good For Us.
What if these Big People do things that disappoint us, not once, but again and again and again?
What if promises are broken, not once, but again and again?
What if a Big Person promises something, then fails to follow through and tells us we are selfish for feeling disappointed?
What if the Big Person constantly scares us, hurts us and tells us that all this is going to make us better stronger people and we just gotta trust their word for it?
What if we, when little kids, have to cover up for and make excuses for Big People when other Big People want or demand to know whats going on?
A lot of us will try to convince ourselves this is normal, perhaps even desirable, just so we can make it through childhood without freaking out.
But then, a lot of us may repeat the pattern in later life--its like a computer with an implanted virus or bug that keeps screwing up.
We keep selecting the same type of hurtful person to go out with.
We keep selecting druggies or drunks as roomies and cant understand why our roomates keep letting us down.
Somehow, few in the Wilberian scene seem to imagine that what they're involved with, via Ken is perhaps similar to the common examples Ive pulled out of the air.
The Wilberian intellectual model not just a bunch of ideas.
Its a business. It is tied to selling product. Its also tied to living persons who are supposed to embody Wilber's system and who keep failing. His endorsed gurus (Adi Da, Andrew Cohen, etc) not only fail to embody Wilbers system, but have trouble behaving decently and can only function in rarified social settings with entourages that parent them and protect them from the consequences of bad behavior.
Its a social scene/moral drama that has been repeating itself since the late 1980s.
Perhaps Wilberian Integralistas should face it that their real religion is an attempt to grapple with power.
But that the method of doing this is via a ritual practiced among the Integralistas of doing so by worshipping unworthy powerholders. Worthy powerholders may not be satisfactory for the the purposes of attaining cathersis through drama.
The worse the behavior of the powerholder, the greater the thrill of rationalizing and defending that person.
Its like Mount Everest--you are guaranteed challenge, struggle, altitude sickness, Sturm Und Drang.
Ditto for defending and invoking the need for forgiveness and compassion towards scandal ridden abusive gurus.
By contrast, there is no tingle, no thrill in being loyal to someone who is worthy of powerholder status by having accepted the need for accountability and by putting guidelines in place that are instititutional.
What is the challenge offered by a decent, honorable guru who accepts accountability and puts in social and financial safeguards?
Its like taking a stroll up a gentle hill.
No scandals to manage, spin, rationalize.
You dont need to put yourself on the line--an honorable, scandal free guru doesent need your services--or your noble misery as an enabler.
If there is a even a risk, a micro vibe that someone is a trust risk, as stated disdain for accountability, an ideology that power equals legitimacy, a whiff of that 'crazy wisdom' alibi, disruptive charisma, a cult of unpredictable, transgressive behavior thats permitted only to the guru while submission is mandatory for underlings and visitors... then there is suspense.
Its like mood music in a movie scene that gooses the viewer, cues him or her subliminally that Something is Probably Gonna Happen.
Wilberian Integralism is more than an ideology.
It is, I suggest, a ritual. And the real danger is very few are trying to be conscious about it.
Without consciousness in all parties, full consent is not possible.
Lets ask if there are elements of some unconscious ritual going on.
We have seen the same pattern of events again and and again, since the Adi Da blow up (1980s), since Andrew Cohen (early 2000s) and now Marc Gafni (first episode Ken had deal with was in 2006, followed a few months later by his Wyatt Earpy diatribe).
Ken endorses someone. First it was Adi Da. Then, Andrew Cohen, then Gafni.
Ken selects someone to endorse.
Ken offers an ideology that gives powerholders total freedom and zero responsiblity for their power. He has sung the praises of Rude Boy and Rude Girl Gurus.
(Perhaps power with accountablity is no fun, has to little potential for drama. Too boring. Select a guru with risk potential for scandal, that guarantees suffering.
Decades ago, a club hosted a noted jazz pianist who was well known to have a raging problem with alcohol. The club's marquee read 'Slim Gaillard--Live. Fun For You. Headaches For Us"
If you want to guarantee drama in your life, endorse people who have, based on past behavior, a high risk of acting out in ways that transgress social norms for decent behavior.
There are pay offs.
First there is the vicarious pleasure of endorsing a Bad Boy or Rude Girl. Vicarious thrills. We know em and love em. Thats why war movies and horror movies make $$$
Ditto for unpredictable gurus.
Then there is the suspense/suffering factor. Some people for whatever reason (trauma, physiology) need risk in their lives. When risk seekers become paramedics, fire fighters, ER doctors and rescue swimmers, thats a blessing to society.
But endorsing high risk gurus..thats where it becomes murky.
The endorsing wild guru impresario hopes, on one hand that nothing will go wrong or that if something goes wrong, its manageable. That keeps a nice background crackle of risk in one's life..
If the guru misbhehaves, theres the tension and effort of having to make excuses for him to the Faithful and defend him and belittle his detractors. One can present oneself as a loyal friend to the guru, maybe also play the role of Big Daddy or Big Brother---and have a macho satisfaction sneering at ones detractors. )[/i]
In the Wilberian social scene---a scene to which Wilber's Integral model is attached for it uses living gurus as its verification--- this selection process and its ideology guarantees suspense for everyone--Ken, and his followers.
The Wilberian Faithful hope.
They hope that this time Guru X will, despite the previous doleful pattern (Adi Da, Andrew Cohen ) behave honorably.
When Guru X does break down and reveals that he is repeating the same abusive pattern as the others endorsed by Ken Wilber....
Rev up the drama.
Now one has the role of defending the scandal ridden guru who is Ken's current choice.
Enter Chorus One--Wilberian Faithful
One gets to show compassion, not to those abused by that guru, but to the guru.
Its the defense of someone who has screwed up that makes forgiveness and compassion so much more dramatic. You score more points in the Compassion Olympics by defending an abusive powerholder, because it confirms your own so special depth of insight....
Enter Chorus Two-- the Onlookers?Mean Green Memers/Boomeritis Casualties, sets up its antiphonal chant--
"What the hell is going on with Ken that he keeps choosing these people?"
"Whats going on with the other celebrities who know better but keep associating with these troubled gurus Ken selects for endorsement?"
After some sung dialogue by the two choruses the scandal ridden guru of the moment
goes to therapy or into hospital with a stress related illness. This is cited as evidence
The Guru issues a statement
Ken Wilber Issues a Statement
Chorus One and Chorus Two do some additional antiphonal chanting
Things simmer down.
Then, a few months or years later, more trouble breaks out, with Guru X or with a new person, Guru Y.
If matters get really bad, a new memoir or blog will be published by yet another person or group of persons who have suffered under the scorched earth ministrations of Kens endorsed gurus.
So...what is it.
Is it the thrill and suspense of defending not the oppressed but making excuses for abusive powerholders?
Anyone who gets involved with Wilberian Integralism is getting involved with more than an intellectual model.
Its a social scene/moral drama that repeats itself.
At least in actual theatre all participants retain some scrap of conscious awareness that its not real life, but a performance that takes place in a boundaried space into which one enters and then exits.
And there are unions and actors equity to protect the well being of persons who perform various roles in theatre arts.
But in the Wilberian Unworthy Guru Drama , its being acted out unconsciously.
Ken Wilber, the director of the Integral Passion Play selects a series of gurus who have heavy risk factors for disappointing his and his supporters hopes. It is necessary to ignore the findings of social psychologists such as Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo and , all of whom have created experiements demonstrating that the social role of uncontrolled power will have degrading effects on character.
Ken opts for not merely for hope...he opts for hubris. He ignores the Wisdom of the Ancients who warned of the dangers of hubris and ignores the wisdom of modern social psychologists (Milgram and Zimbardo) who have shown us how human character is affected by social cues and that no one is immune.
Ignoring the Wisdom and Warnings of the Ancients, and ignoring the findings of Milgram and Zimbardo, Ken Wilber, takes a potentially heroic stand, hoping to defy destiny and takes on the suspense, the tension of defying overwhelming odds.
But...Wilber does not put his own body on the line.
Instead, he calls for gurus who carry high potential for failure and these gurus invite the trust of persons who put their bodies under the guru's control, making themselves vulnerable in a way Wilber does not.
Meanwhile, Ken selects a guru who seems to embody his hopes but also perhaps embodies his apprehensions. First Adi Da, then Andrew Cohen are selected and they abuse their power, precisely because they have no accountablity for its use, create environments that shield them from consequences, exactly as warned against in the Zimbardo Prison Experiment.
But by defending these gurus even after they have demonstrated themselves not to be superhuman but merely men and irresponsible and hurtful men, gives Ken Wilber and his Hopeful Followrs a heroic task--bearing the suspense of hoping the guru wll be worthy and the heroic task of coping with Scandal by defending the wild behavior of the guru as not a disappointment but as necessary to to evolution of the universe.
Onto the stage come two choruses--the Wilberian Hopeful/Faithful and the Onlookers.
The Wilberian Hopeful are the chorus of Devotional Enablers who sing the Praises of Total Power and Zero Accountabilty and Cry that Powerholders Need Compassion. They leap to the defense of any and all gurus caught in scandal. The rhetoric is so similar as the years roll on that it has the characteristics of a liturgy, a ritual.
The Onlookers (including myself and those who disapprove of cruelty) are the Chorus warning of Hubris and Nemesis
But this is not an ordinary theatre production or even a private persons dream.
The bodies, minds, health and finances of the guru's subjects bear the brunt of it.
They are shouted down and shamed if they try to add their voices to the drama, for only the voice of Powerholder matters. In this drama, only powerholders are allowed to have and use their voices as human individuals.
The abused persons are mere instruments--it is through the medium of their bodies, not Kens body, their elicited trust, disappointed hopes, and plundered hearts and finances that a guru is demostrated as unworthy and thus deserves the call and response chorus that is typical of Wilberian Grand Opera.
Ken doesnt act out the role of abused victim of a powerholder--he defends the powerholder and rationalizes the excesses and unpredictable behavior as necessary for human evolution.
(An old variation on "Beating kids is good for their character.")
There is no dramatic potential in a powerholder/guru who accepts accountability, has safeguards in place against hubris.
There is no possiblity for betrayal, no suspense. Such a person will not suit the casting requirements for this kind of opera.
Ken sets out to defy the Wisdom of the Ancients who warned against Hubris and the wisdom of modern social psychologists, namely Milgram and Zimbardo.
Anyone not a powerholder or one of the Faithful in the Wilberian scene can only speak in safety as part of a chorus in order to remain safe, and often behind an assumed name.
Those who have been abused and who dare to speak as individuals has been and will be viciously attacked.
Once you have been the the property of a Wilberian guru, you cannot exercise agency on your own behalf, ever again--which is why those who have broken free and resumed agency by writing books and publishing blogs have been treated so viciously.
They are the true heroes